It remains one of Australia’s darkest sporting moments, but Greg Chappell is starting to see the funny side of the infamous underarm bowling saga.
During an ODI match in 1981, the Black Caps required six runs off the last ball to secure an unlikely tie against Australia at the MCG.
With his younger brother responsible for bowling the decisive delivery, Australian skipper Chappell did the unthinkable.
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“I walked up from deep mid-on where I was fielding, Trevor was bowling,” Chappell said on Channel 7’s The Front Bar.
“I asked him how he was bowling his underarms. He said, ‘I don’t know’. I said, ‘Mate, you are just about to find out’.
“I then spoke to the umpire at the bowler’s end, because … the bowler has got to tell what he is going to do.
“The eyes in the umpire’s head rolled back.
“It could have been a real disaster if he had bowled a wide. I’d have been in serious trouble.”
Trevor Chappell bowls underarm to Brian McKechnie.Source:Herald Sun
New Zealand cricket fans have never forgiven Chappell for that fateful delivery, and the footage infuriates many of our Kiwi rivals to this very day.
But there was a silver lining to come from the underarm debacle, which Chappell joked made the entire ordeal worthwhile.
“I was having a beer with the captain of the New Zealand team at the time a couple of days earlier,” Chappell said.
“Jeff (Howarth) was bemoaning the fact that we had huge crowds in Australia. He said, ‘In New Zealand we don’t get anyone to turn up. The All Blacks are the big thing in New Zealand, the cricket team run a very distant second. We find it really hard to get people motivated to come and watch us’.
“I said, ‘Leave it with me’.”
In 2019, Howarth conceded the underarm delivery was “the greatest thing to happen to New Zealand cricket”.
Banner at the SCG in 1981.Source:News Limited
Although Chappell was for a while public enemy No. 1 across the Tasman, the 72-year-old has fond memories of his time in New Zealand after 1981.
“The response from the New Zealand team and the New Zealand public has been fantastic,” Chappell said.
“We went to New Zealand soon afterwards, the first one-dayer we played was at Eden Park. They turned up from everywhere … it was like Beverley hillbillies, they all turned up.
“Seriously, they have all come from the farm, because as I walked out to bat there was a duck pushed out on the ground. There was a pig that was let loose.”
Greg Chappell explained the underarm incident on @thefrontbar7.#TheFrontBar pic.twitter.com/dLNmtI43Ih
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